Seniors get earful at forum

Originally published by the Cambridge Times on September 28th, 2011. To go to the Cambridge Times website please click here

It was a curve ball no one saw coming.

Progressive Conservative candidate Rob Leone listens as Libertarian Allan Dettweiller tackles a questions during the CARP Debate


Libertarian candidate Allan Dettweiller swayed from his standard let the local levels take care of it comments during his closing statements at the Canadian Association for Retired Persons-sponsored provincial question and answer session on Monday at Fairview Mennonite Home, and raised eyebrows to comment about the “unborn” during the seniors-centred event.

Dettweiller said he wanted to make it clear that even though the questions on the night were aimed at seniors, the Libertarian party cares equally about everyone and that “abortion is unacceptable in Ontario hospitals”.

While the abortion issue – which Dettweiller conceded falls under federal jurisdiction –momentarily silenced those in attendance, the prior question and answer period was pretty standard fare, leading Progressive Conservative candidate Rob Leone to call answers by Liberal counterpart Kathryn McGarry and the NDP’s Atinuke Bankole an “example of pettiness in politics”.

Bankole warned of a Tim Hudak government that was all about cuts to senior and social benefits, while McGarry preceded most of her answers about the Liberals track record while in power with calls that the NDP and PC parties were against the government’s policies.

Leone just shook his head and retorted, calling his competitors’ answers “scripted”.

“This government takes all the credit for everything, but none of the blame,” Leone said.

The questions for the four candidates – Green Party candidate Jacques Malette couldn’t attend because of work commitments and independent Robert Ross said he found out about the event after the confirmation date for attendance, but sat in the front row of the crowd – ranged from affordable access to long-term care to allowing seniors to access and control 100 per cent of locked-in pensions.
Bankole said that defined benefits for pension plans are “like bell bottoms” and have “really become things of the past”.

She explained that a NDP government would explore unlocking seniors’ pensions.

“We have seniors that have a cloud of uncertainty over their heads right here in Cambridge,” she said.
When it came to putting a strategy together that would allow seniors to receive extended home care, McGarry said the Liberals have come a long way with health care for seniors and will continue that by adding three millions more funded hours of home care. She added that the government will encourage doctors to start doing house calls again.

“In 2003, we fixed a system that was not working,” McGarry said.

The one hot-button issue that did cause a bit of a stir was the parties’ position on what to do about the HST on home heating, property taxes and electricity costs for residents on a fixed income and seniors.
McGarry got Leone worked up when she said that the PC party will only take the HST down to eight per cent instead and then take away the 10 per cent rebate provided by the current government.

Leone rebutted that the PC will eliminate the HST and keep the rebate intact, while Bankole insisted that the Conservatives were just following the NDP’s platform. She said she will be “relentless” to make home necessities affordable.

Leone replied, “The NDP won’t do it until 2016 though. We will do it now.”


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